In Perry Walters’ post of December 13th  the question was raised: which was the most-decorated US Army Division of WW1, the 2nd or the 93rd? It depends on whether you count individual awards of the French Croix de Guerre (C de G). Since the 93rd Division was broken up and brigaded with French units, their soldiers received 527 individual C de G’s.

Bear in mind that during WW1 the only US decorations for heroism were the Congressional Medal of Honor (CMOH), the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) and the Navy Cross (established in 1919 but retroactive) – the Silver Star was established in 1925 and the Bronze Star later on in 1944 (retroactive to 1941).

By contrast, in the WW1-era the French had five levels of the C de G, all of which were subordinate to the Médaille Militaire (MM), which was itself below the Légion d’honneur (not to be confused with the more recent US Legion of Honor, which isn’t a medal for heroism).

The standard for award differed significantly. Consider that there were contemporaneously awarded 118 CMOH’s, 6,185 DSC’s and 1,838 Navy Crosses in WW1, while the French bestowed over 2 million C de G’s and 230,000 MM’s.

 

The C de G was even awarded to entire units, but this was not a medal but a fourragère cord worn over the left shoulder. Personnel who were serving with the unit at the time of award can wear the cord forever, while personnel serving currently with the unit may also wear the cord for the duration of their assignment.  The 370th Infantry regiment of the 93rd received this honor, as did the 23rd Infantry, 5th and 6th Marines of the 2nd Division, more than once.

It can be argued that the 2nd Division medal count is inflated because some of the Marines received both Army and Navy decorations for the same deed.

However, the US Military doesn’t recognize any foreign decoration or medal as equivalent to any US decoration or medal so the US Military didn’t count Belgian, British, French, Italian or a few more awards to US personnel in official WW1 unit statistics.

A footnote: neither the 2nd nor the 93rd had the most CMOH’s. That record goes to the 30th Division, made up of National Guardsmen from Tennessee and both Carolinas.

 

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official from Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and has memberships in the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Indian Military Historical Society and the Salonika Campaign Society.